We instinctively set goals for nearly every aspect of our lives: get through X amount of emails, finish reading X book by the end of the month, or send X number of party invites out by Friday. Yet, meetings are one of the only tasks not subject to the same treatment. Too often, they become free-for-alls in which any and all topics are open to discussion, limited only by time and stamina.
Meetings, like Action Items, should have specific, actionable goals: Rather than “Discuss Project A,” think of more focused goals, such as, “Determine budget and workflow for Project A.”
They should also have a designated leader who makes sure that the gathering achieves its objective. As a purpose-focused facilitator, the “meeting leader” keeps everyone accountable by doing a few things:
1) Stating the meeting’s purpose at its start.
Why are we here, and what are we supposed to accomplish? Laying out the objective and setting the meeting’s tone is one of the leader’s key responsibilities.
2) Taking notes (if required by the group).
Some groups find that each attendee taking notes becomes redundant and subjective. By appointing one impartial note-taker, the team is free to focus on the conversation at hand, and able to later recount their discussions without bias.
3) Keeping the meeting on track.
Meetings are wont to wander into territory unrelated to the initial goal. When this inevitably happens, the meeting leader redirects conversation back to the matter at hand. If an important but off-topic idea pops up, the meeting leader makes a note so that it can be revisited later in a separate meeting if need be.
4) Articulating next steps.
To finish up, the meeting leader does a quick rundown of the meeting’s highlights, ensures that everyone knows their Action Steps, and takes charge of scheduling the next gathering if need be.